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Press Releases: Research Funded by Agencies Participating in the National Nanotechnology Initiative

(Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation)

Researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have developed a method to fabricate a one-dimensional array of individual molecules and to precisely control its electronic structure. By carefully tuning the voltage applied to a chain of molecules embedded in a one-dimensional carbon (graphene) layer, they found they could control whether all, none, or some of the molecules carry an electric charge. This technique could lead to new designs for nanoscale electronic components including transistors and logic gates.

(Funded by the U.S. Department of Defense)

A team of Purdue University researchers has demonstrated light transport-assisted information processing by creating a pearl spectrometer. This discovery could lead to the design of disordered nanostructures of Anderson light localization to develop a new class of spectral information processing machine.

(Funded by the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Department of Energy)

Researchers at Cornell University and Columbia University have developed a way to stack two-dimensional semiconductors and trap electrons in a repeating pattern that forms a specific and long-hypothesized crystal. The team also devised a new optical sensing technique that enabled them to observe numerous electron crystals with different crystal symmetries.

(Funded by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Energy)

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory are using solid phase processing approaches to create materials with improved properties. Focusing on a lightweight aluminum silicon alloy widely used in the defense, aerospace, and automotive industries, the team used shear force to restructure the alloy at the nano-level. The distribution of the silicon was changed at the atomic level, making the microstructure much more robust than identical materials produced conventionally.

(Funded by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Energy)

Physicists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison have observed reef-forming corals at the nanoscale and identified how they create their skeletons. The researchers used a spectromicroscopy technique to probe the growing skeletons, and results showed amorphous nanoparticles present in the coral tissue, at the growing surface, and in the region between the tissue and the skeleton. The results provide an explanation for how corals are resistant to acidifying oceans caused by rising carbon dioxide levels and suggest that controlling water temperature, not acidity, is crucial to mitigating loss and restoring reefs.

(Funded in part by the National Science Foundation)

An international team of researchers has designed a highly sensitive nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide sensor that can be implanted in the body. All of the components are biodegradable in water or in bodily fluids but remain functional enough to capture the information on the gas levels. The researchers made the device’s conductors out of magnesium and used nanoscale silicon for the functional materials.

(Funded by the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Department of Energy)

Scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory, Columbia University, and Bar-Ilan University in Israel have developed a platform for making 3-D superconducting nano-architectures with a prescribed organization. This platform is based on the self-assembly of DNA into desired 3-D shapes so that the DNA can serve as a scaffold for building 3-D architectures that can be fully “converted” into inorganic materials, such as superconductors.

(Funded by the National Institutes of Health)

Researchers from the University of Michigan have reported a new synthetic protein nanoparticle capable of slipping past the nearly impermeable blood-brain barrier that could deliver cancer-killing drugs directly to malignant brain tumors. The discovery, demonstrated in mice, could enable new clinical therapies for treating glioblastoma, the most common and aggressive form of brain cancer in adults.

(Funded by the National Science Foundation)

Researchers at Rice University have developed a new cost-effective technology for desalinating industrial-strength brine by using a thin coating of the 2D nanomaterial hexagonal boron nitride. Boron nitride’s combination of chemical resistance and thermal conductivity facilitated a system that produced a flux of more than 42 kilograms of water per square meter of membrane per hour — more than 10 times greater than ambient solar membrane distillation technologies — at an energy efficiency much higher than existing membrane distillation technologies.

(Funded by the U.S. Department of Defense)

Researchers at the University of Washington have designed the first end-to-end molecular tagging system that enables rapid, on-demand encoding and decoding at scale. Instead of radio waves or printed lines, the tagging scheme relies on a set of distinct DNA strands called molecular bits, or “molbits” for short, that incorporate highly separable nanopore signals to ease later readout. The molbits are extremely tiny, making them ideal for tracking small items or flexible surfaces that aren’t suited to conventional tagging methods.